Should malicious acts of animal cruelty be worthy of felony charges and years behind bars at a federal penitentiary? Two Florida congressmen believe the answer to that question is a definitive "yes!"
Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) introduced bipartisan legislation last week seeking to intensify punishment for those guilty of severe animal cruelty and exploitation.
What are the details?
The lawmakers re-introduced the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, a bill that has been introduced in previous congressional sessions. The Senate has unanimously passed the legislation twice, but it was blocked from coming to the House floor by former Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) during the last congressional session.
The bill addresses severe animal abuse, including "crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating and impaling animals," in addition to beastiality or the sexual exploitation of animals, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
The lawmakers propose violators be charged with federal felonies and face a maximum of seven years in federal prison.
"The torture of innocent animals is abhorrent and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law," Buchanan said.
Congress has addressed animal abuse before. In 2010, Congress passed the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act as a deterrent to people who uploaded videos to the internet showing animal mutilation. But Deutch believes the law didn't go far enough to address the underlying issue.
"We've acted in the past to stop the horrific trend of animal abuse videos. Now it's time to make the underlying acts of cruelty a crime as well," he said.
According to the Humane Society, most states already punish varying levels of animal cruelty with felonies, mandating jail time.